Forest Bathing: How Time in Nature Can Improve Your Health
Ask anyone who spends time outdoors hiking, bicycling or fishing and they will tell you that there is something restorative about spending time in nature. Recently, the Lawyer Assistance Program of the New York State Bar Association held an informational event on these benefits.
Brooke Mellen of Cultured Forest led the session. A risk assessment manager by training, Mellen pivoted during the pandemic and created her business called Cultured Forest, which offers guided hikes, meditation, wellness consulting and forest therapy training.
She explained how the Japanese created the practice of Shinrin-Yoki or “forest bathing” about 40 years ago. The translation of the Japanese term is to take in the forest atmosphere and be a part of your surroundings.
“It was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries in the 80s,” she said. “It was developed in response to a public health crisis in Japan. They were facing high burnout rates due to the high-density city living.”
Over the years, the Japanese studied the positive health effects of spending time in nature and developed long-term research results. “The research shows a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, lowered blood pressure and an increase in Killer T-cells which fight disease.” Mellen says at least two hours of exposure to nature each week will give you these benefits plus improved mental performance and creativity.
While our busy work and family schedules may make it difficult to find time to spend outside among the trees, Mellen offered suggestions to bring the outdoors inside.
Taking the suggestions offered, Mullen challenged group members to set a goal to increase their connection to nature. Commit to getting outside each day or taking a long walk once a week? Perhaps create a space in your workplace or your home to connect to nature. Lastly, set a long-term goal such as participating in an outdoor service project or climbing a peak in the Catskills or the Adirondacks.
Creative Writing Challenge: Brooke Mellen led the seminar attendants in a short, guided meditation and then encouraged the participants to write a haiku about an outdoor space. She shared this haiku she wrote during the event.
If you are interested in more Attorney Well-Being programs, the first Signature Session is scheduled for Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. It is free and registration is open. It is a community based opportunity to share and balance the stress that comes with being an attorney. The programs run every other Thursday for an hour.
Find more information on Forest Bathing at the following links: